The Word Count Lie

You guys. I feel it is my mission to spread this news. Microsoft Word LIES!

(This is probably only news to me. But it was a shock to my delicate system. AND I’M THINKING OF YOU, DEAR READERS. If I can help you avoid the heartache and suffering, I have done my job.)

You know that handy dandy word count feature on Microsoft Word? One click, it tells you how many words in your document. SO EASY. And how can it be wrong? I mean, it’s counting words. It’s tedious, yes, but not rocket science.

OH BUT WAIT. If you are preparing, say, a manuscript? For submission? This is Microsoft Word’s response:


You see, Microsoft’s word count is useless when it comes to manuscripts. Why is that, you say? Because publishers don’t care about how many words — actual words — are in your manuscript. They want to know how many words can fit on a page. These two things are not the same.

So instead of just clicking that easy word-count button, we writers have to do this crazy formula (which, ok, not SO crazy. But MATH!). Oh, and the kicker? This word count is HIGHER than Microsoft Word’s. Which… normally? Not an issue! More words typically means that the writer gets paid more. WIN WIN.

Unless you have a strict word-count limit of 1,000.

And unless that damn manuscript word-count formula puts you 400 over that 1,000 limited.

And then, if you are said writer, you go and cry into your knuckle-ring mug.

(This post brought to you by the letter M, for Melodrama, and the number 5, for 5th round of revision’s the charm…)

4 thoughts on “The Word Count Lie

  1. Although I am sad for the frustration this is causing. I am more GLAD that math is creeping it’s way into your day.

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